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Who Jumped Bail 

L ITCIEN CONEIN’S reported efc| 
fort to establish an assassination i 
program at the Drug Enforcements 
Administration was apparently frus- 
trated before it could be tried out. 
But this program was perhaps oniy 
the most direct tactic designed for 
use in the drug war and the tempo- 
rary setback did not deter him front, 
pursuing other equaliy unconvenii 
tional undertakings. One of the first 
and largest of these was the anoma- 
lous series of secret operations in' 
South Florida code-named Deacon i. 

Deacon 1 was a response to DE.^'s' 
discovery that the main drug traf- 
fickers in Southern Florida — par- 
ticularly in cocaine — were Cuban 
exiles. This was a new challenge, for , 
many of these opponents had beea,^ 
professionally trained in exfUtration • 
and infiltration during the CIA'S; 
five-year secret war against Cuba ia 
the early 1960s. The DEA found it- 
■telf helpless against such e.xpert-, 
enced professionals. What really 
alarmed the drug agency was the^ 
discovery that some of these former' 
CIA men were putting their ol«t 
counterintelligence training to worlr^ 
against them. “We found that if w^ 
were following someone; someone 
was following us,” explained a DEA; 
official in Mi ami. "The Cubans wer« 
actually counter-surveUllng us. They 
were just beating the pants off us.” 

The obvious solution to the prob- 
lem was for DEA to hire its own Cu-. 
ban exiles; hence Deacon 1, staffed 
exclusively by former CIA men. Dear 
con 1 was to be a prototype of the 
kind of CIA-Far East operation that 
Conein planned to initia te through- 
out the world. Three full-time DEA 
officials — ail with CIA backgrounds 
— were assigned to direct a net of 
about 30 highly experienced Cubans^ 
FkOBi the begiiming, the program 
wai jcept secret, even, from moat 
t^!f]dfhdals in Conein’s dlvistp& m 

ran it personaily but of his office m 
Washington, passing orders through 
a Cuban veteran of the CIA wba 
shuttled back and forth to Miami. 

The drug world that narcotics off! 
dais are called upon to control deals, 
in huge sums, of money and is char- 
acterized by a total lack of scruples 
about corrupting or kitling anyone 
who gets in the way of the traffick- 
ers. It is no wonder that government 
narcotics officials so often turn for 
assistance to figures as loathsome as 
the trade itself. 

-An argument can be made that no 
other kind of person can safely or 
effectively operate in such an envi- 
ronment But just as a man is af- 
fected by the company he keeps, so 
too are ^ug officials and their pro- ; 
grams twisted by the informants 
they employ. The story of Carlos 
Hernandez Rumbaut, one of Deacon" 
I's informants, shows how far just 
one such alliance can go. 

L ike most of the Cubans in Dea-* 
con 1, Carlos Hernandez had 
been at the Bay of Pigs. Apparently 
he first came to the attention of the ' 
old Bureau of Narcotics and Danger- 
ous Drugs (BNDD) when he was ar- 
rested in Mobile in 1969 with '467 
pounds of marijuana which he said 
he was going to sell in Miami His 
trial, scheduled for April, 1971, ■wad 
postponed when the judge deter- 
mined that his mental state was dis- 

With this curriculum vitae the 
BNDD regional office at Miami saw 
fit the following month to enlist him 
as a “Class 1 cooperating individual'* 
He provided some useful inform*- 
tion; in return, the bureau not onij| 
paid him 1190 but attempted to bK 
tatcede on his behalf with the AlaJ 
buna autiioritles. Unmoved, thn 

jailed him pentOng a new< tnai.^ 
BNDD was thus forced to put Her- 
nandez on an “Inactive cooperating 
individual status.” 

I ' 

He was then convicted and sent- 
enced to 19 years. Not even this 
cooled the Miami office’s ardor for 
Hernandez. He appealed but didn’t 
have enough money to post his $2!I- 
000 bond. Deacon I’s chief agent and 
Conein’s right-hand man on the pro- 
ject solved the problem by arrang- 
ing for one of Deacon I's informants, 
a CIA veteran and a successful Cu- 
ban jeweler in Miami, to lend Her- 
nandez 912,300. He assured the jew- 
eler that DEA was in effect gua- 
ranteeing the loan. As soon as Her- 
nandez was released from jail the, 
Miami office put him back on active 

At this point Hernandez had had- 
enough of U.S. justice and fled t»’ 
Costa Rica, where the government, 
accorded his drug experience a very j 
different recognition. Within weelsi 
he was made an honorary member;, 
of the Costa Rican Narcotics Divl^' 
Sion, then promoted to captain and; 
second in command by order of thea^ 
President Jose Figueres. Soon after;; 
he became ^gueres’ bodyguard. 

Ail of this information comes fron^ 
Hernandez’ confidential DEA fll^ 
which includes CIA reports on Her-» 
nandez’ conduct as a Costa Ricai^ 
narcotics officer. One of these iden^ 
tifies him and a relative of President| 
Fl^eres as members of a death: 
squad that executed at least one nar-., 
cotics trafficker in early 1973 and 
had sworn to kill more (a solution toj 
the drug problem eerily reminiscent' 
of the reported assassination 
gram proposed by Conein for ; 

Hernandez imMinsHp* cfiaci a 

yAAmlwiMdnr Vka^l 

to lily. 1973; ttotoEHBM 
dbcottttove hi ntotioMhiii whk' toi 

infoRuat Bat JtorBUi4eriiraiiM>»4 

for all practical purposes, the Costa:' 
Ricaa narcotics divisioa and th^ 
DEA, loath to give up so strategicall^q 
placed an asset, disregarded the am^ 
bassador’s. directive. In October J 
1973, the Alabama courts denie 
Hernandez' appeaL 

H ernandez had no tntentj 
of returning to the Unhatf 
State* to go to jaiL Even so, the man 
ter might simply have faded aipatf 
were it not for the understandabic 
anger of the Deacon 1 informant 
who had guaranteed half of HeriUDK 
des* bail. The jeweler, unwilling to 
forfeit his $12,500, demanded thah 
Hernandez make good his loss, aiMi| 
threatened to track him to Coatol 
Ricaif he didn't. ( ; q 

Hernandez, meanwhile, was stil^ 
working with DEA, now in conjunc’. 
tion with its regional office in Mex-^ 
ico City. He told the drug agency, 
that the American government wai) 
’treacherous" and he threatened to : 
"eliminate" anyone who attempted 
to come after him. The embassy in 
Costa Rica became understandably - 
nervous and asked DEA to resolve- 
the dispute quietly. A special agent 
was dispatched to San Jose to sooth*. 
Hernandez. In a conciliatory 
Hernandez at least agreed not to 
harm any American narcotics offt>' 

The DEA’s machinations to pror^ 
tect Hernandez were now forced toi 
widen. DEA's New Orleans regional 
director was sent to persuade the at-4 
tomey general of Alabama and th«>* 
district attorney in Mobile to wahre^ 
the appeal bond forfeiture. But th^ 
director's efforts angered the loca^* 
prosecutor. Bandy Butler, who nog^ 
only refused to cooperate but mad*' 
Hernandez an issue in his campaign,' 
and threatened to tell the world if. 
DEA made any further attempt to. 
keep him out of jaiL , 

And so in late 1973 Carlos Heman>* 
det — Bay of Pigs veteran, convicted’ 
drug smuggler, DEA informant,’ 
Costa Rican narcotics ace, private ’ 
executioner and presidential body-^ 
guard — was preparing to become., 
an international incident, ready to , 
go off right in the middle of to*^ 
post-Watergate furor, the montoBti 
tlM Jeweler set foot in Cost* Ricaci^^i£ 

tm' w>. way^ to appeal ta^i^ 
Coptit Rk^ goroniment for Mlpb 
HMte was an etecUon coming nphs^ 

Hanandei' pesitto in the coontiyTti 
sarcotiGS divtoot was so strong thal^ 

no one felt he could be dislodged, - 

Something bad to be done quickly 
Conein's supwvisor, George BMitf 

decided to pay the jeweler $12,5(X> h*i 

dramadcaily increasing his montWjf 
/•««h payments a* sn informant ovea^ 

• B would appear to have been 
dangerous risk for Belk to autbac)M4 
the payments, since they Indirectiyi 
amlsted a fugitive from a drug cs ssj t 
But Belk, when contacted, said thersfi 
was nothing wrong with this. “Her- 
nandez was a source at U»e tlma.'*J 
But he “didn’t work for me, he waa^ 
working for the Costa Ricans. The^ 
guy who was working for us, wha| 
had provided the bond money, was , 
the crux of the problem." 5 

Meanwhile, one senior DEA off!-* 
cial reports that Hernandez has' 
twice ance entered the United 
States, the proud bearer of an Amer-.^ 
ican diidomatic passport